Should I introduce baggage camps to Tilly’s Very Bad Day?

Richard (doctorphalanx) has been encouraging me to introduce baggage camps into Tilly’s Very Bad Day. I like painting up camps for DBA and I already have a camp for my Dutch army of the Thirty years War. My question is, was looting the baggage train/camp a significant event in any battles of the Thirty years War or English Civil War?

The question(s)

was looting the baggage train/camp a significant event in any battles of the Thirty years War or English Civil War?

Don’t get me wrong, lots of looting happened after the battles. But for that we don’t need a camp on table.

My impression is that in-battle looting, looting of the camp during a battle, was rare. So rare that it should not be included in the rules at all or, if simulated at all, it is a scenario specific rule. Am I right?

I guess another question is, are camps so cool that I should include them just because they are pretty?

My Dutch Camp

Okay, I can’t proceed without sharing a shot of my lovely camp Dutch camp. Painted by Roland Davis 20 years ago.

I got it because I assumed I’d be using some variant of DBx for the Eighty Years War and Thirty years War. But I went off DBR so fast I never actually used the camp. Tragically it is still waiting in the storage box.

P1000834 Dutch Camp
P1000834 Dutch Camp

And because I’ve never used the Dutch camp, I never bothered making camps for my other armies (Spanish, Swedish, Imperialist).

Evidence for in battle looting of baggage

Richard (doctorphalanx), good man that he is, promptly found four examples of in-battle looting of baggage. Two from the Thirty years War and two from the English Civil War.

Are there more?

Battle of Breitenfeld (1631)

At Breitenfeld the fleeing Saxons looted the baggage train of their Swedish allies. I love this example, because of the betrayal, but it sounds like a scenario special rule.

History Net: Battle of Breitenfeld

The massive Imperial squares turned ponderously oblique right and began to move forward; the light cavalry on their right made straight for the Saxon lines. As the Croatian horsemen, hardened by generations of conflict with their neighbors in the Turkish empire, emerged screaming from under the dust and smoke, Johann Georg’s green recruits began to waver. The Saxons had barely held up under the pounding of the Imperial cannons; faced with the oncoming mass of Tilly’s veterans, they broke with barely a shot fired. Johann Georg himself was said not to have reined in until he was 15 miles away; some of his cavalry found enough courage to sack the helpless Swedish baggage wagons before following him.

Ailes (2018)

Because they thought the battle was lost, the Saxons fled the battlefield and plundered the Swedish baggage train to take what goods they could before the fled for home. The Swedish forces under Gustave Horn’s leadership, however, regrouped and filled the gaps in the ranks that the fleeing Saxons had created. As they day wore on, the Swedes broke through the imperial lines, capturing about six thousand solders and forcing the rest to make a hasty retreat. The Swedes continued to chase down their enemies, capturing or slaughtering them. During the pursuit, however, the Swedish baggage train was left far behind. The day after the battle, the Swedish army was quartered in a nearby town where the men waited two days for their depleted baggage train and families to catch up.

Monro (1647, cited in Mortimer, 2002, p. 30)

And all night our brave Camerades, the Saxons were making use of their heeles in flying, thinking all was lost, they made booty of our wagons and goods, too good a recompence for Cullions that had left their Duke, betrayed their country and the good cause

Battle Marston Moor (2 July 1644)

At Marston Moor some of Goring’s Royalist horse turned inward to attack the allies but others headed for the baggage train.

Wikipedia: Battle of Marston Moor

Most of Goring’s victorious wing then either scattered in pursuit, or fell out to loot the allied baggage train, but some of them under Lucas wheeled to attack the right flank of the allied infantry.

Battle of Jankov (6 March 1645

Ailes (2018)

Even more dangerous than having their possessions stolen was the possibility of being captured if the enemy overran their position. This is exactly what happened to the women in the Swedish baggage train at the Battle of Jankov on March 6, 1645. During the battle the imperial forces caught the Swedish right flank unprepared and overran and scattered it. As the imperialists began to chase the Swedish forces, they ran into the Swedish baggage train. The imperial troops stopped their attack to loot the baggage and take the women who had been left with the army’s equipment and supplies as prisoners. Capturing these women proved to be quite important because among the group of prisoners was Beata De la Gardie, the Swedish commander Lennart Torstensson’s wife. Fortunately for the new captives the Swedish right flank regrouped and counterattacked while the looting was proceeding. While the wives were saved from imprisonment, the Swedes’ enemies escaped with some of their possessions.

Naseby (14 June 1645)

Wikipedia: Battle of Naseby

Rupert either neglected or was unable to rally the cavalier horsemen, who galloped off the battlefield in pursuit of the fleeing Parliamentarians.

Behind the Parliamentarian lines, Rupert’s men had reached Naseby and the Parliamentarian baggage. The Parliamentarian camp guards refused to surrender, and Rupert eventually rallied his men and led them back to the battlefield. It was too late by this time to save the remnants of the Royalist infantry, and Rupert could not induce his men to make another charge. Fairfax halted and reorganised his lines, and when he resumed his advance, Rupert’s cavalry rode off the field.

Fairfax’s forces pursued Royalist survivors fleeing north towards Leicester. Archaeological evidence suggests that fugitives and Royalist baggage guards tried to rally on the slopes of Castle Yard (also known as Wadborough Hill), a wooded eminence which once had a motte and bailey castle, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) behind the Royalist position at the start of the battle.[21] Many Royalists were slaughtered when they mistakenly followed what they thought was the main road to Leicester into the churchyard in the village of Marston Trussell, and were unable to escape their pursuers. Parliamentarian troops also hacked to death at least 100 women camp-followers in the apparent belief they were Irish, though they were probably Welsh whose language was mistaken for Irish. This massacre was without precedent in a war where atrocities against civilians were rare and strongly discouraged, and the reason for it remains a mystery.[24] Wedgwood suggests that the soldiers were intent on plunder rather than killing but were enraged when the women, possibly armed with cooking knives, resisted them.

Where to get Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly’s Very Bad Day is available for Download (PDF).


Ailes, M. E. (2018). Courage and Grief: Women and Sweden’s Thirty Years’ War. University of Nebraska Press.

Monro, R. (1637).Monro, His Expedition with the Worthy Scots regiment (Called Mac-Keyes Regiment). London.

Mortimer, G. (2002). Eyewitness Accounts of the Thirty Years War 1618-48. Palgrave.

History Net: Battle of Breitenfeld

Wikipedia: Battle of Naseby

Wikipedia: Battle of Marston Moor

14 thoughts on “Should I introduce baggage camps to Tilly’s Very Bad Day?”

  1. I think you should have it as an option. Increases army resilience to have it on the battlefield, while damaging morale if lost.

  2. I think many wargame rules make baggage camps more significant than they usually were, with ideas based on a very small number of Ancients battles. In the 4 examples you identify, only at Jankov did the sacking of the baggage train seem to have a significant effect on the outcome of the battle, and there it delayed the Imperial troops, rather than damaging the morale of the Swedes. In the Naseby example, the baggage train seems sufficiently far from the Parliamentarian lines that it would be off-board in a game, and its sacking would probably not even be known by the troops in the battle itself. I suspect requiring the armies in TVBD to have baggage camps with a damaging morale effect if lost would lead to ahistorical tactics, with both sides prioritising the ‘benefit’ of taking the opponent’s baggage. But if you like the look of baggage camps on the table….


    • Hi Steve,

      I’d just logged in, intending to say more or less what Roger just said. I don’t think having baggage present as a target to be defended makes much historical sense. And in addition to Roger’s comment, I don’t see any evidence, from accounts of battles during the period, of generals making significant, special provisions to protect their baggage train during the battle, rather the opposite if anything. Nevertheless a camp is a pretty sight on the table and worth having for that reason alone.

      On the other hand, it might be worth mentioning Phil Barker’s treatment of camps in his Horse, Foot and Guns rules. It’s out of period, so not directly relevant, but it’s a refreshing take on the idea. Here’s the gist of it.

      First, the definition of a ‘camp’, actually termed a Supply Base in the rules, from HFG v 1.1.

      ‘SUPPLY BASE Representing the army’s supplies, hospitals, stores and transport depots, and positioned contiguous to a built-up area (BUA) or battlefield edge and also on a waterway, navigable river, road or railway. It cannot be moved during a battle and is only feebly defended by its own personnel. Its function is to increase endurance, require protection and offer a target for raids.’

      And its effect, again from the rules.

      ‘A …. Supply Base [counts] as 3 element equivalents per 200 AP (rounded up) in the army.’

      In HFG, an army’s break point is a function of the number of element (equivalents) lost in proportion to it’s total at the start. Thus the Supply Base (camp) serves to bolster the resilience of an army that deploys one but is itself vulnerable to loss by raiding, with a commensurate contribuiton to the likelihood that the army will break.

      This is the best thought through mechanism relating to camps that I’ve seen (apart from that in DBA) and it appeals to the wargames geek in me but on the whole I’m still with Roger, especially for the purposes of pick up games.

      Best regards,


  3. I’d say yes. The examples quoted show at least cavalry going off in search of loot instead of wheeling in on the enemy center. While I don’t know the period in great detail, other periods show commanders detaching significant portions to guard baggage. Davis’ brigade at Gettysburg had one of its four regiments doing that. The 54th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner had two of its ten companies dong the same. Baggage needed to be guarded against the enemy, wandering brigands and larcenous units of one’s own side.

    In a campaign game (that rarest of events) I’d say a force that had its baggage looted would have to spend a strategic turn stationary within reach of a friendly depot before being able to advance. In a one-off tactical game I’d suggest.that loss of a camp either affects the army break point or reduces the level of victory by one, say from decisive to moderate or moderate to marginal and increase the level of defeat to the same degree.

    The camp can also stand in for the undisciplined pursuit of enemy before the battle is decided, a la Prince Rupert. Or else you can craft rules for such pursuit.

    That said, I’m a lazy cuss and all my DBA armies share the same generic toothpick barricade camps.

  4. For me, there is a very big difference between out of control cavalry chasing off in search of loot and troops being deliberately directed to a point (the baggage camp) just behind the enemy lines in order to inflict a morale loss on the enemy. TVBD currently doesn’t have out of control pursuit, and I suppose that is something that has been considered and rejected. I still struggle to find an example in this period of an army’s morale being damaged by the loss of baggage, at least while the battle is going on. I can see that a campaign may treat the loss differently.

    I also note the link between DBA and Horse Foot and Guns. As far as I know, very few other rules for ‘horse and musket’ have anything corresponding to baggage camps, although some do something similar with objectives. I still think ‘protect the baggage’ seems better as a scenario than a universal feature of 30YW battles using TVBD.


  5. A very good question indeed.
    While in larger battles the baggage train (and the looting thereof) may have not been of great importance I think that in smaller actions, on the retreat, etc. camps/trains can make for a very interesting factor in games.

    Apart from nice looks, I think that it’s a good incentive for players to try to keep the enemy from breaking through. I think it adds urgency to the situation, so simply from a gameplay standpoint it’s an interesting addition to games.

    Of course it’s also scenario dependent. This week we played a scenario in which an Imperial/Leaguist detachment recklessly pursues a smaller Swedish force into enemy territory and gets trapped by several smaller forces to their left and right. In such a scenario, which is just about smaller detachments in a very dynamic situation of course there’s no need for baggage trains.

    In a larger battle I think I’d rather have a camp around as well. It just adds another point of interest apart from the main bodies of the armies clashing in the middle.

  6. So far, from this discussion, I’m leaning towards:

    – including a rule to cover cavalry pursuit
    – but leaving camps as a specific scenario rule

    • Yep, that seems to sum it up :-)!

      To be serious though, in respect of ‘a rule to cover cavalry pursuit’, the thread seems to be envisaging the case where a badly defeated cavalry unit flees from the board and, always or in some cases, is pursued off the board by the winners.

      Currently (I think) a ‘badly defeated cavalry unit’ (i.e unit Resolve <=0) is considered 'routed' and removed from the board and it's opponents remain where they are until their next 'Move' phase.

      Maybe the simplest way to model the possibility of 'pursued off the board by the winners' is to treat it similarly to 'Rally Back', so that 'A [cavalry] unit that won in melee [against other cavalry] must Pursue its defeated enemy until halted by a Command Check'.

      'Pursue'. Remove the routed enemy unit from the board as usual but mark it's notional exit point from the board, as though it had fled straight backwards. The winning unit travels at full speed each move towards this exit point until any of: (a) halted by a successful Command Check; (b) it makes contact with another enemy unit.



      • I’ve been mulling over pursuit in a couple of contexts
        (1) Unit routs
        (2) Command breaks but rest of the army hangs around (several of the English Civll War battles were like this)
        (3) Allied army has one ally breaks but other ally hangs around (e.g. Breitenfeld).

        You’ve focussed on (1) unit routs. I’ve been focussing on (3) with the occasional attempt at (2) and distant consideration of (1).

        But, despite the different focus, we are thinking along the same lines.

        In addition to “(a) halted by a successful Command Check; (b) it makes contact with another enemy unit.” I think there is also “(c) pursue off table with potential to come back”

  7. Consistency check on Step 3.5 Rally back.

    While I was reading the rules to check that my previous comment was consistent with them, I noticed the following, which looks like there may be some inconsistency in respect of the Rally Back rules.

    Step 1.1. Attacker Move
    Command check
    … Similarly a unit must check command again to rally back (see Step 3.5 Rally back).

    [This seems inconsistent with bullets 1, 2 and 3 in 3.5 (see below), which preclude or demand a Rally Back, so I presume it really only applies to bullet 4. BUT I can’t imagine the circumstances under which the Rally Back attempt envisaged by bullet 4 is permitted. I suspect I must be missing something.]

    Step 3.5 Rally back
    Horse and light horse can rally back. A rally back is a backward movement as described in
    the Change of direction section.
    These criteria govern whether a horse or light horse unit rallies back:
    • A unit that drew or won in melee cannot rally back
    • Units that lost in melee must rally back.
    • Units that chose to evade must rally back
    • Otherwise a unit may rally back

    • Good spotting Chris. The Command Check should be for voluntary rally backs. But I’m getting rid of them in the next version.

  8. I don’t know about the 30 Years War, but they certainly featured in the Battle of Edgehill.

  9. My impression – based, it should be said, mostly on earlier periods – is that the looting of camps during battle was more commonly detrimental to the looters than the lootees, because it tied up troops who might otherwise have been falling the enemy in the rear, or because it stopped pursuit, allowing routers to rally, and indeed sometimes to return to the field, surprise the looters, and snap victory from the esophagus of defeat.

    So I’d suggest that camps might very properly be included in battle games, but their chief function should be to act as a magnetic distraction to troops that get into the enemy backfield.


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